Aug 30 - Dalai Lama optimistic about future relations with China. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader, said during an interview Wednesday (August 28) there are encouraging signs that attitudes towards Tibet are shifting in China. The spiritual leader said it was too early to tell if China's next president - who is almost certain to be Xi Jinping after a Communist Party Congress later this year - would adopt a new stance that could break decades of deadlock over Tibet. But he was reassured by what he had heard. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER, THE DALAI LAMA, SAYING: "I can't say for definite, but according to many Chinese friends, they say the new, coming leadership seems more lenient. Lenient does not mean it is something special, but lenient means more realistic." His comments were more upbeat than just a few weeks ago when he declared that resuming formal negotiations - frozen since 2010 - was futile unless China brought a more realistic attitude to the table and that it was useless trying to convince China that he was not seeking full independence for Tibet. The Nobel peace laureate said there had been a stream of visitors to Dharamsala from China, among them people who told him they had connections with senior Communist Party leaders. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER, THE DALAI LAMA, SAYING: "These are very very encouraging signs. These Chinese intellectuals or realistic thinkings, now they show they are concerned and they appreciate our way of approach - not seeking separation, but seeking genuine autonomy according to the Chinese constitution." Regarding of a spate of self-immolations in China in protest over its rule in Tibet, the Dalai Lama said he does not encourage the acts, but has refrained from calling on followers to stop. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER, THE DALAI LAMA, SAYING: "I will not give encouragement to these acts, these drastic actions, but it is understandable and indeed very, very sad. Now the Chinese government, they should investigate what are the real causes." Apparently in good health, the spiritual leader said he was looking forward to another 10, 15 or 20 years of life, and joked that China seemed more interested in who would be reincarnated as the next Dalai Lama after his death than he was himself.